On October 21, 2015, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation, which amended the New York State’s Human Rights Law and New York Labor Law to expand protections available to employees. These amendments became effective January 19, 2016.
New York’s equal pay law (N.Y. Lab. Law §§ 194, 198), which before January 19, 2016 allowed employers to justify a pay difference between employees of opposite genders based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production, or “any other factor other than sex,” has been amended. The new amendment removes the “any other factor other than sex,” exception and replaces it with narrower language that allows a pay differential to be based on “a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience.” The new amendment’s “bona fide factor” must be “job-related with respect to the position in question” and consistent with business necessity. The new amendment also bans employers from retaliating against employees for discussing their wages with one another.
However, employers may, establish reasonable time, place and manner prohibitions on such discussions. Further this amendment provides for additional “liquidated” damages of up to 300% (as opposed to 100% prior to amendment) of the wages due in cases where an employer is unable to prove that it acted in good faith when violating the law.